Last year, SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity was awarded a grant to help alleviate loneliness and isolation amongst the forces community during the pandemic.

Part of this grant was dedicated to SSAFA’s Forcesline, a free and confidential telephone helpline, email and webchat service.

It’s available to the whole military community, including families, serving personnel, and veterans.

The helpline acts as a front door to the wider support services offered by the charity and it can be a telling indicator for the overall wellbeing of the military community. The service allows you the space and time to discuss your problems with an experienced advisor, who can offer an ear to listen, for as long as you need.

Many callers contact Forcesline having not spoken to anyone about their issues or experiences, and the ability to talk to another person who listens to them can make a huge difference.

The support offered to those feeling lonely and isolated will vary and the individual will often be referred to a local SSAFA branch or signposted to another SSAFA service, or a partner organisation, to help with their specific needs.

Compared to the previous year, Forcesline had an 80 per cent increase in requests from April to June specifically for befriending and support with loneliness, highlighting the need for support among the forces community.

Bill Grant, Forcesline Manager at SSAFA says: “Thanks to a DCMS grant, we were able to fund computers and other accessories for our advisors to work from home during this pandemic. Across the globe, we’ve seen a cutting of the support systems that keep us feeling grounded and human – social distancing brings a hidden cost as people feel isolated and scared to reach out. Not being able to have a friendly coffee or meet up with family has left many people feeling adrift. It’s our job to continue supporting them and give them the space to explore their feelings and talk about what’s going on for them.

“It’s important to remember that loneliness and isolation isn’t just something that people on their own feel. You can feel very lonely in a room full of people, including your family and friends. I’d encourage anyone experiencing these feelings to reach out and get in touch – we’re here to help.”

To find out more, visit www.ssafa.org.uk

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